If it costs more than £400 to reduce 1 tonne of CO2 using solar, compared with around £30 by planting trees in the tropics, why are we spending so much money on green bling?This is a tricky one. Solar panels on the roof are a very clear statement of one’s commitment to avoiding carbon dioxide (CO2) but is it really the most cost-effective solution? Some simple calculations clearly show that it isn’t. On top of this, solar panels don’t absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, it only avoids it. A tree breathes in CO2 and breathes out oxygen, capturing and storing the carbon in its structure. Solar replaces the use of coal and gas generated power avoiding the associated carbon dioxide emissions.
With limited time and limited budgets shouldn’t we be focused on the most cost-effective solution? In October 2018, the IPCC released a report which stated that we only have 12 years left to act to avoid catastrophic climate change. So, if I am lucky enough to have £5,000 to spend, should I put into solar panels or tropical rainforests?
It feels a bit like the waste hierarchy that told us all to reduce, reuse, recycle, recover, dispose and yet everything seems focused on RECYCLE (third in the hierarchy) when clearly it is much more effective to REDUCE in the first place.
I question whether or not I am sitting on the fence with my response, ‘we need it all’!? Given the IPCC report and the warnings, the debate about which is the most effective solution in avoiding, reducing or absorbing CO2 rages on, appears to be 30 years too late and confuses people into inaction.
If I am fortunate enough to have £5,000 to spend, I hope I don’t waste too much time thinking about how best to spend it!
In the meantime, it won’t cost me anything to try and reduce my impact through some easy-to-begin with lifestyle changes and for less than a cup of coffee a month I can plant trees that we know absorb CO2, support biodiversity and just for the sheer love of them!
Written by: Wendy Stephenson (Group CEO)